Michael Woods of Ottawa, Ont. was third at the UCI Road World Championships today. Woods’ finish is the first Canadian podium at the event since 1984. 

Woods is a former elite runner, specializing in the 1,500m. He was a multi-year national champion in running and won gold at the Pan American Junior Championships during his early years. Woods went on to run for the University of Michigan, but suffered repeated injuries to his foot that ultimately led him to call it a career. 

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While Woods was injured, he regularly took to the bike as a form of cross-training. Though his last competitive race was in 2007, he ran smaller races for a four-year stretch afterwards. Woods still hold the Canadian 1 mile and 3,000m U20 records. He has only competed in cycling for about five years, building on his past aerobic ability as a middle-distance runner. 

It took Woods some time to develop as a cyclist and improve his bike handling skills, as he started riding seriously later than most cyclists. But clearly he has caught up. The world championship course was a climbers’ course, with the finishing climb lasting about three kilometres. This is Woods’ most significant finish as a cyclist thus far. 

Woods is coming off of a stage 17 win at the Vuelta a Espana. Post-race Woods dedicated that effort to his wife and son, Hunter, who was stillborn two months ago. He said in an interview, “I wanted to win so bad for him. And I did it. I did it.”

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